Last month, Microsoft released a preview of its new Office 2013 package to the public so that users could get a feel for the updated versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and OneNote. As technology lovers and avid tech trendwatchers, we couldn’t help but explore what CEO Steve Ballmer has called the “biggest, most ambitious Office” to date, and share our thoughts with our loyal Hedge IT readers.
You are likely very familiar with earlier versions of the Microsoft Office package, so the basics of each program won’t be a major surprise. However, there are some changes and new features that are being incorporated into this new release.
Embracing the mobile and tablet computing trend: Office 2013 is designed to be touchscreen-friendly in order to create a more seamless computing experience for mobile device and tablet users. Many of the same touch features that Apple users are accustomed to will be applied, including swiping a finger to scroll or turn pages, pinching to zoom and writing with a finger or stylus. The goal here is to ultimately smooth out the user experience by unifying the desktop applications with the Windows Phone 8 smartphones and Microsoft Surface tablets.
Incorporating cloud capabilities: In order to capitalize on the unification of these various computing platforms, Office 2013 is cloud-ready, so that users can easily synch their PCs, laptops, smartphones and tablets in order to access documents on any of these devices. This new capability signifies Microsoft’s move into the cloud services arena. Office 2013 will be deeply integrated with the company’s SkyDrive cloud platform, enabling easy collaboration via Skype (a recent Microsoft acquisition). Documents can now be saved to SkyDrive by default, making the collaboration process even smoother.
A new user interface: The Office 2013 user interface isn't drastically different from Office 2010, but some minor updates have been made. The “ribbon” toolbar design remains, but the icons inside it are slightly larger and more spread apart to take advantage of large monitors. This design is carried across Word, Excel, PowerPoint and all other applications within the suite. Another minor change to look for is the addition of your name and Microsoft account photo in the upper-right-hand corner of the screen in all Office programs, a reminder that the cloud now permeates the entire package.
Going social: While social connectors are not new to the Office programs, they will become a focus area within the new suite. Users can now link their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts just as they can on Windows Phone 8 with feeds streaming in. Microsoft also plans to open up the API for developers so that they can incorporate other social network content in as well.
So far, no official launch date for the full version of Office 2013 has been set. Industry experts believe Microsoft will make it available in time for the launch of Windows 8, which Steve Ballmer has indicated will take place later this year.
Here is a CNET video so you can see Office 2013 in action.
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